Review: Artifacts #39

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Artifacts 39

Artifacts #39: “The First Darkness”

Writer: Raven Heisenberg
Artist: Gustavo Brocanello
Colourist: Eddy Swan
Letterer: Troy Peteri
Editor: Betsy Gonia

Against Jenny’s better judgement, Jackie tells their daughter, Hope, a bedtime story – the story of the first Darkness.

Like last month, this instalment of Artifacts is Top Cow’s chance to show-off some more of the Talent Hunt winners.  Now, also like last month, it’s not Top Cow’s finest venture. But the team are new to the game so it’s only fair to view this as a trial run more than anything else.

The story works perfectly well as a stand alone piece.  Jackie tells his daughter, Hope, a story at bedtime while wife Jenny oversees (I think that’s what she’s doing anyway – maybe she just really likes bedtime stories, too?).  Jackie claims that it is the story of the very first bearer of The Darkness.  Claims being the opportune word here.  The story itself is one of a caveman’s lost family and his desperate attempt for vengeance.  Yes – perfect for a kid’s bedtime!  But Hope isn’t your average little girl and fans of The Darkness will see this as a very typical scene for the “Reborn” version of the Estacado family.

The art aims for realism and it works well enough.  It didn’t exactly set the heather on fire though.  Brocanello’s landscapes are attractive but the figures still need a bit of work – faces in particular.  The colours are simple, keeping in tone with the caveman theme.  Oranges and browns dominate and, because this is a Darkness story, the bloody scenes are splattered with a bright, vivid red.

Heisenberg’s script is a sparse one.  About halfway through the issue, I had a real “Ah, so that’s what you’re doing” moment.  There is absolutely no dialogue from the characters in Jackie’s story.  Well of course there isn’t – they’re a bunch of cavemen.  Instead, what the reader gets is a very low number of captions – Jackie’s narration along with Hope and Jenny’s commentary – and it is a clever move from Heisenberg.  You can go for pages without ever reading a word.  The only problem is that they exchanges between the Estacado family do need a bit of refinement.  There is nothing particularly special or moving goes on between these characters whom so many readers have grown attached to.  It feels a little like a lost opportunity.

All in all, it’s still early days for this new team of creative minds.  Given time, I’m sure that Brocanello and Heisenberg will go on to do interesting things and this was a great chance for them.  Between Heisenberg’s preference of story over dialogue and Brocanello’s primitive scenery, they have both shown promise.  I look forward to seeing what they’ll do next, it’s just not the greatest issue of Artifacts that Top Cow have ever put to print.